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Croissants leaking butter

This is a complex issue, so bear with me here.
I've been attempting to make croissants for the restaurant I work at. I've had great success in general--my croissants are flaky, tasty, and golden. However, there is a problem that has been vexing me, and no matter what I do I can't seem to get around it.
All goes well up to the point I bake off the croissants. In the oven, the croissants leak butter. A lot. So much that they sort of fry on the bottom. The final croissants taste good, but they are greasier than they should be.
I've been doing a lot of reading, and many sources say that if your croissants are leaking butter, they aren't proofed enough, but I know that mine are proofed enough when I put them in the oven. I'm positive of that.
My theory is that the kitchen is just too warm and that the butter warms up so much that when it hits the hot oven it just oozes out. There is nothing I can do about the kitchen being warm, but I was wondering if there is a good fix for this--something I'm not thinking of. I tried putting the proofed croissants in the reach-in for 20 minutes right before baking in the hopes that this would firm up the butter, but it didn't seem to have any effect on the outcome.
Would it be possible to proof the croissants in the walk-in? I know this would take a lot longer, but if it would prevent the butter leakage issue I would definitely do it.
Are there any other possibilities as to why this is happening? I'm using the Tartine recipe, which I've read has more butter than many croissant recipes. Should I scale back on the butter?
Any expertise or advice would be greatly appreciated.

asked by petitbleu 11 months ago
22 answers 5127 views
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added 11 months ago

Restaurants are often not the best places to work with croissants. Besides the room temp being high often the walk in is closer to 50 or 55 degrees rather than 40 especially near the door. Suggestions would be to increase refrigeration times as suggested by the recipe. So if the recipe calls for 4 hours of refrigeration between proofing and folding in butter increase to 6. Find the coolest part of the walk in. If you bake in the morning from dough made the day before let the dough chill for 3 or 4 hours in the freezer (just make sure it is transferred from freezer to fridge before closing at night. Make sure when you do your egg wash that you let it dry completely. (can refrigerate for 30 minutes and do a second egg wash) Bake on insulated sheets (airbake) using silpats so the bottom won't bake faster than the top.
And yes you can proof in the walk-in. Good Luck

Me_in_munich_with_fish
added 11 months ago

My method involves making a preferment and then making the dough on day 1. I freeze the dough and move it to the walk-in before leaving for the night. The next day, I fold in and laminate the butter. We have a sheeter, so the rolling process is not lengthy, which is good considering how hot the kitchen is. I do three turns, which I think is pretty standard. I found one recipe that calls for 6 turns, but that's just not going to happen for me. Anyway, I'm thinking my plan of attack will be to make sure the butter is pliable and warm enough (not too warm) that it won't separate into chunks in the dough and will remain a solid layer. Next, I'm going to try proofing the dough in the walk-in and using Silpats. Thanks for the advice. Onward!

Monkeys
added 11 months ago

Hi. Another possibility for your butter leaking through is the lamination process. If the butter is too cold when you are rolling out the dough, it can cause breaks or rips in the dough itself and that leads to leakage. A good source of information is www.thefreshloaf.com. You can read up a lot about baking croissants and troubleshooting. I also had a lot of butter leak out when I did the Tartine croissants but have not spent much time troubleshooting it. They are really delicious though. Please update this when you solve the problem!

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added 11 months ago

The second answer made me think it is is the recipe because though I've never had this problem with the recipe in Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Bread Bible or Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery, I had the same kind of leakage with the Tartine recipe. Like a flood of butter all over the floor of the oven. At the time, I thought it was because I hadn't proofed them properly, but now I'm thinking there is a difference in the recipe, the amount of butter or something, that caused the problem.

Baci1
HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added 11 months ago

I agree. I think there might be too much butter. I have not made croissants but I remember the Great American Bake Off (?) episode when contestants were asked to make croissants. One of the judges talk about the ratio (can't recall what it was) of butter to flour and how too much butter resulted in a greasy croissant. Sure enough, someone doubled the amount of butter and had liquid butter dripping from her croissants. I think you might want to compare the ratio of Tartine recipe with the ratio from Bouchon and Bread Bible.

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added 11 months ago

This is the recipe I've used. I believe it is only very slightly adapted from the Tartine recipe. I've followed this recipe including using instant yeast over active dry yeast. The 2 differences I've made is after step 7 I've left the dough in the freezer for at least 4 hours but not overnight and instead of silpains I've used silpats on top of insulated baking sheets.
I've made this recipe 3 times this summer (the croissants freeze well) and I've not encountered the butter leakage problem.

Me_in_munich_with_fish
added 11 months ago

How warm is the kitchen you're working in?

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added 11 months ago

whoops...here it is
http://www.thefauxmartha...

Me_in_munich_with_fish
added 11 months ago

Okay, I've done some baker's math and made some interesting findings. The baker's percentages of butter in different recipes varies widely.

Tartine= 64%

FCI Cookbook= 60%

Tartine Bread= quoted in the book as 40%, but this is not taking the flour in the poolish and levain into account; if you factor those in, the butter percentage is more like 29.6%, which sounds really low

CIA Cookbook= 67%

Bouchon Bakery= 55%

Bread Bible= 59.9%

So the issue could indeed be that the percentage of butter is too high, but I've made this recipe many times before (albeit in a cooler kitchen) with great success. I'm also reluctant to start over with a new recipe, since I've modified the Tartine recipe quite a bit over the past two years to get it where I like it. But if the butter leakage persists in spite of trying to keep the dough cool and the butter pliable I may have to return to square one.
Thanks for the helpful answers, everyone!

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added 11 months ago

It's my home so 70 degrees with low humidity.

Me_in_munich_with_fish
added 11 months ago

Okay, so my plan is as follows: I'm going to use the Tartine recipe but lower the percentage of butter to about 55%. I'm also going to use a butter block instead of smearing the butter onto the dough. I'll do 3 turns, freezing in between for 20 minutes. I will proof the dough in the walk-in, egg wash twice before baking, and try using the low fan setting on the oven at a reduced temp (maybe try 350 first and lower to 325). This is an utterly fascinating discussion to me. Really hoping it works out!

Baci1
HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added 11 months ago

Let us know the results. Totally fascinated by the process too!

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added 11 months ago

One of modern cooking's greatest quests...The perfect croissant

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added 11 months ago

What is the temp of your proofbox? The only time I had a similar issue, the proofbox was running too hot. Check it w/ a thermometer.

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added 11 months ago

What is the temp of your proofbox? The only time I had a similar issue, the proofbox was running too hot. Check it w/ a thermometer.

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added 11 months ago

What is the temp of your proofbox? The only time I had a similar issue, the proofbox was running too hot. Check it w/ a thermometer.

Me_in_munich_with_fish
added 11 months ago

We don't have a proofbox. Just a hot kitchen. We're lucky to have a dough sheeter. I'm going to try to make it work by lowering the percentage of butter being laminated and by proofing in the walk-in. The walk-in isn't as cold as a regular fridge, so my hope is that they will proof adequately. Or maybe I could start proofing at room temp then move them to the walk-in. Anyway, it's a work in progress.

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added 11 months ago

55% butter for the roll-in is average. My first question is: are you refrigerating the bulk dough overnight before rolling, cutting and shaping the croissants? That's crucial to setting both the dough and the butter. My second question is: do you have access to a walk-in, or just to a reach-in refrigerator? A reach-in is going to be much less stable in terms of consistent temperature than a walk-in will (and if your walk-in is running at 50-55 degrees at the door, where the temperature sensor is typically located, you've got far greater problems than leaking butter in your croissants; someone is either leaving the door wide open, or the condenser and fan are in trouble). A reach-in doesn't have the capacity to circulate consistently cold are that a walk-in has. For that reason, if that's all you have, you should consider significantly extending you refrigeration times between turns, probably by 50% or more. Croissants should proof (at not more than 85 degrees) until doubled in size, which, depending upon how cold they were to begin with, may take a good hour. If you're positive that yours are adequately proofed, is there a chance that you're over-proofing them? That can certainly contribute to loss of butter. And they should be baked at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. I just have a feeling that extended refrigeration is your key, especially if your kitchen is warm (my end of our kitchen averages 85 degrees, so I'm essentially working in a proof box, and working with laminated doughs is an incredible challenge) and you only have a reach-in refrigerator.

Me_in_munich_with_fish
added 11 months ago

Boulangere, where have you been all my life?! For starters, I essentially make the dough on day one and do all the laminating, shaping, proofing, and baking on day 2. It is definitely possible that I could do some or maybe all of the laminating on day one and just do the shaping, proofing, and baking on day 2. Second, I have access to a reach-in and a walk-in as well as a walk-in freezer. I'm definitely going to start taking better advantage of the walk-in. It seems as though this will be the only way to combat the hot kitchen situation. Third, it is certainly possible that the croissants are over-proofing. The recipe that had been working so well has been totally thrown out of whack by this new situation, so I don't see why the proofing time hasn't also been altered. I'll definitely try refrigerating the dough longer between turns and proofing in the walk-in (or, as mentioned above, at least partially proofed in the walk-in). Thanks for chiming in! The advice of in-the-trenches bakers is always appreciated!

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added 11 months ago

I will sleep better tonight knowing that you have a walk-in at your disposal! If you make your dough and do the roll-in and turns on day 1, refrigerate in the walk-in in-between turns and overnight, then do the final roll-out, cut, shape, proof and bake on day 2, I think you'll get much better results. And let the warmth of the kitchen be your guide as to how long to refrigerate between turns, not the recipe. At that point, it's at best a guide. Bon courage!

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added 11 months ago

Cynthia, you're a godsend for bakers and non-bakers!

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added about 1 month ago

I can't believe I ran across the article because I'm having the same problem with Tartine's croissant recipe, except I'm a home baker and don't have access to a walk-in at my apartment. I've been working with half the recipe, starting with 11oz. of butter and then 10oz. using the spreading method. I thought it was a little strange using that much butter over 2/3 of the dough. Not knowing how to use bread percentages, I'm thinking about skipping down to an 8oz block.